There are few things scarier as a parent than knowing that your teen is behind the wheel–with a cell phone. Here are some tech tools that you can use to to help ease your mind and keep your kids safer when you hand over the keys.
The Apple Watch was the featured attraction at Apple’s ‘Spring Forward’ Event last week, and while the press was sensational history has taught us always to be wary of first-generation Apple products (case in point: my brother-in-law bought the first IPhone for $800 and four months later a better, faster version was released for $400). To recap Apple’s ‘Spring Forward’ event: Amidst much speculation Apple CEO Tim Cook announced that the Apple Watch (all models) will have 18 hours of battery life on a single charge, and you’ll get 8 GB of storage with 2 GB allotted for music and 75MB for photos. There is a model for everyone, ranging from $349 to $17,000(!) depending on your budget and style preference. The Apple Watch will be available beginning on April 24 with preorders starting on April 10.
Sports Lover: $349-$399. The anodized aluminum and Ion-X glass Sports model comes with a fluoroelastomer (synthetic rubber) band in Space Gray or Silver. Apple will sell bands separately between $49 and $449, with additional magnetic chargers costing $29 for a 1-meter cable and $39 for a 2-meter cable.
Business Casual: $549-$1,099. The next tier model is stainless steel, comes in two sizes, two colors (polished stainless steel and space black) and with a display that’s laminated in scratch resistant sapphire. Prices for the 38mm and 42mm devices, including a black or white Sports Band, start at $549/$599. The stainless steel–link bracelet raises the price to $1,099 for the 42mm model.
Jay Z: $10,000-$17,000. For those in the highest tax brackets the Watch Edition will be an eye-catching status symbol. Also available in 38mm and 42mm sizes, the Watch Edition features sapphire crystal displays and are made of solid 18k Rose or Yellow gold. This version of the watch will be a limited edition, a logical decision given the price tag.
Summary: These watches are big. While they may be wearable for men without too much fanfare they are too big for most women to wear without making a major statement about your commitment to tech (is your watch really the first thing you want people to notice about you?) Also, the watches are expensive when one considers that they are almost outdated upon arrival and the wearer will most likely want an upgrade to the smaller version that will probably arrive next spring (or sooner). The 18-hour battery life on a single charge sounds nice until you realize that in addition to your phone, your IPad, and your computer, you will have to charge your watch. EVERY NIGHT. All of that being said, I wouldn’t say no to a rose-gold Watch Edition for a mere $10,000, as long as someone else is paying.
The 12-inch Macbook is a thing of beauty. It was the gold (yes, gold) Macbook I found myself daydreaming about instead of any of the Apple Watches. It has a 3 million–pixel Retina Display, weighs just 2 pounds (the next lightest Apple product is the 11-in MacBook Air weighing in at 2.38 lbs) and is only 13.1mm thick. And for the first time, Apple’s new Macbook will come in gold, silver, and space-gray. The Macbook promises a very reasonable 9 hours of battery life and has a larger trackpad with haptic feedback (the use of tactile technology, or sense of touch, to provide information) and support for Force touch (new technology that can distinguish between light touch and deep touch). Apple incorporated a new butterfly mechanism for the keyboard keys, which makes them 40% thinner and four times more stable (for greater precision typing) than traditional keys.
One port: The 12-inch Macbook is the first Apple product to adopt USB-C, which combines power, data and video output in a single, reversible port. It uses low power 1/1GHz and 1.2 GHz Intel Core M processors with Intel HD Graphics 5300, which let it have a fanless design with silent (and cool) operation. The Macbook will ship on April 24 (same date the Apple Watch will be in stores), and prices start at $1,299 for the model with 256GB of storage and $1,599 for twice that amount of storage and a slightly faster chip. Both models come with 8GB of RAM and, for now, neither can be upgraded to more.
What don’t you get? A MagSafe power plug or any of the old ports from previous models (except for a place to plug in your headphones), which means most people will need an adapter for older peripherals. Also, the camera quality isn’t as good as what you get on the MacBook air.
HBO Exclusive Partnership
One of the big surprises from Apple’s “Spring Forward” event was the announcement by HBO CEO Richard Plepler of an exclusive partnership between Apple and HBO for HBO’s stand-alone streaming device, HBO Now. Beginning on April 12, just in time for the premiere of the “Game of Thrones,” only Apple device owners can access HBO Now via Apple TV, Ipads, Iphones and HBONow.com. With more than 2,000 titles, including “Girls,” “The Sopranos,” and “Veep,” available for only $14.99 per month, our AFScott at Home head Matt Sutte says, “This is the death knell for cable TV. Soon having cable will seem like 1999.”
Apple CEO Tim Cook announced that Apple now has 453 retail locations in 16 countries and six of the 21 stores in China opened within the last two months. Wow. He elaborated that their global presence allowed Apple to reach 120 million customers in its retail stores in just the last quarter. Apple Pay, Apple’s digital wallet, continues to expand its reach with 2,500 card-issuing banks and 700,000 locations across the US. Why shouldn’t my wallet, like everything else I use on a daily basis, come with an apple on top? With this latest “Spring Forward” event Apple cements their commitment to innovation and shaping the future of technology as we know it.
Great news for Windows 7 Start Menu fans (namely everyone), Microsoft’s new Windows 10 will include the classic Windows 7 Start Menu with the best features of Windows 8. And it looks as though Microsoft is trying to make this upgrade as painless and cost-effective as possible for those running older versions of Windows. Microsoft announced at their January 21 event that for the first year after Windows 10 launches any device running Windows 8.1, or Windows Phone 8.1 can upgrade to the latest version of Microsoft OS for FREE. Previously Microsoft also confirmed that Windows 7 users will be able to upgrade to 10 for free but we’ll see if that pans out. Microsoft is promoting their new commitment to consistently updating devices throughout the “supported lifetime for the device.” Other welcome features of Windows 10 include the return of the Start Menu, its unification across desktop and mobile, the introduction of Xbox streaming, Cortana (the voice assistant in Windows Phone 8.1—Windows’ Siri) integration and holographic plans.
Here is a breakdown of some of the new features of Windows 10:
1. Multiple Devices
Windows 10 will run across all devices including desktop, laptop, tablet, phablet, and smartphone. “Windows 10 will run on the broadest amount of devices. A tailored experience for each device,” said Myerson. “There will be one way to write a universal application, one store, one way for apps to be discovered, purchased and updated across all of these devices.”
2. Return of the Start Menu
The Windows 10 Start menu combines the classic Windows 7 Start Menu with the best features of Windows 8, namely the Live Tiles, reimagining them for an impressively modern desktop that allows for multitasking. As our tech Saif Naqvi says, “To be honest, I’m just glad the start menu is back… they’re finally going back to the core Windows platform that everyone enjoys and is familiar with.” Searching within the Start Menu will now perform a web search and its layout can be customized so apps can be removed or resized.
3. Better Touch/Keyboard & Mouse Integration
Microsoft is calling their new approach to moving between different input methods (like touch and the keyboard and mouse) ‘Continuum’ and it will be able to switch automatically between modes by detecting how users interact with their device. It will carry over to the new Start Menu, windowed apps within the desktop and other features of Windows 10.
4. Windows Phone
Microsoft will soon issue a major update to Lumia devices running the latest version of Windows Phone 8.1, codename “Denim.” The Denim update will include Cortana, Live Folders, a Glance Screen Tool, enhancements to Internet Explorer and the camera app, among others. The leaked screenshots below show a tiled interface with a new notifications system which looks similar to the existing one but which will allow for synced notifications across different devices, so if you clear one on your phone it will also clear on your desktop.
5. Virtual Desktops
Virtual desktops will have multiple desktops and be triggered with a new task view button that allows users to launch a new virtual desktop and jump between them.
6. Xbox Streaming
Windows 10 and Xbox One will interact in a variety of ways, including streaming Xbox One games to the Windows 10 PCs and tablets in your home, according to announcements made by Head of Xbox Phil Spencer at Microsoft’s January 21 event. In a live demo, Forza Horizon 2 streamed from an Xbox One to a Microsoft Surface. Streaming will require a one-time set up to pair the devices, after which Xbox One games can be accessed on a Windows 10 device by clicking on the game’s name in the Windows 10 Xbox app.
Microsoft has confirmed that Windows 10 will be free for Windows 8.1 users for its first year. No final word on the upgrade for Windows 7 or older versions but Microsoft did confirm this fall that the two most recent versions will be able to upgrade to Windows 10 directly. There is no set date for the release of Windows 10 but recently Neowin cited sources claiming that Windows 10 will start appearing on consumer hardware coming this June 2015.
8. Spartan browser
Microsoft introduced their new browser, Spartan, which will include reading lists, a distraction-free reading mode and a built-in PDF viewer. Advanced features include the ability to annotate by keyboard or pen directly on the webpage. It will also include support for Cortana, which means the browser will know about your upcoming flights, which will pop up right in the browser’s search bar. Cortana will also show you information about the sites you’re browsing (if you’re looking at a restaurant, Cortana will pop up and show you directionsand let you book reservations).
9. Holographic Plans
During its January 21 event, Microsoft revealed Windows Holographc and Microsoft HoloLens, a brand new headset and hologram system designed to reimagine virtual reality.
Every Windows 10 device will support holographic computing APIs.
10. Surface Hub
During their January 21 event Microsoft revealed a brand new device to showcase the features and capabilities of Windows 10, called the Surface Hub. The devices is an 84-inch, 4K touchscreen that is designed for Enterprise users and features stylus support similar to the Surface Pro 3 with a pen made just for this device. The Surface Hub is designed to offer a holistic solution for meetings from web conferencing to white boarding to document sharing.
Should you upgrade to Windows 10?
Our friends at howtogeek.com put it best: “If you’re upgrading from Windows 8, it’s a no-brainer to make the leap (but not yet!) because Windows 10 is the same type of upgrade from Windows 8 that Windows 7 was from Vista: the internals are similar, but the package is significantly better. If you’re upgrading from Windows 7, here are just a few of the things you’ve been missing out on because the Windows 8 interface was so annoying that you didn’t upgrade:
Improved system resource usage and performance. Less processes running in the background.
Refresh and Reset to reinstall without reinstalling.
New and Greatly Improved Task Manager. You almost don’t need Process Explorer. Almost.
System Boot is significantly faster, and sleep mode works a lot better.
File Historyto restore old versions of documents and files.
USB 3.0 is natively supported.
Loads of security features like built-in antivirus and network intrusion detection.
Impressive Resource Monitor application to track system performance.
And many, many more features.
Since it’s a free upgrade, we definitely recommend that people make the jump. Just… do NOT upgrade right now. Wait until the final version is released. Note that they haven’t actually announced when it will be released. We’re guessing September, but there’s no way to be sure.”
AFScott is pleased to announce the addition of a disaster recovery division to our AFScott team. This team will focus on disaster recovery solutions in the form of technical documentation, compliance, introduction of proper procedural practices, evaluation of corporate infrastructure and the recommendation and implementation of disaster recovery solutions. Our technicians will work with each client individually to create a comprehensive personalized protocol using experience gained from over 30 years of anticipating and managing disaster recovery scenarios in corporate settings. As we enter this age of technological dependence AFScott offers clients a way to stay ahead of the competition while engaging in extensive disaster preparation.
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